MEXICO CITY (AP) – Previous pages: << 1 , 2
Group D: England, France, Sweden, Ukraine
At this rate, England might have to call Tony Adams out of retirement to start at center back. If Terry's hamstring tweak is not major, the loss of Terry Cahill may not be as devastating since Lescott can slot in there and is obviously comfortable playing with Joe Hart, his City teammate and keeper.
With all that as the backdrop you know what we are thinking now - England can do well since they have such lowered expectations that there is no pressure on the players! It's just too cruel to keep having hope in this squad. If England can get two draws, they will go through as they will have Wayne Rooney back for the final game against Ukraine. I never go against England. So, while I think France can go deep in the tournament, England playing France in the first match of the group stage in a traditionally cagey affair will be a positive for the Three Lions.
Key player: Steven Gerrard.
Breakout star: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
A long unbeaten streak only means it is going to be hard to swallow when you lose one when it matters. France hasn't really played well in the post season, pre tournament friendlies - but neither has almost every other team. Which France shows up?
This France team is well balanced, has decent depth and will be tough to beat. They can get to the semifinals. The good news is that they are not overly dependant on one player but do have a number of skilled players who can step up and change the outcome at the offensive end.
Key player: Karim Benzema.
Breakout star: Yann M'Vila.
Sweden is always strong in tournament play. They have one of the best players in the world in Zlatan Ibrahimovic who, till this year, had won the domestic title in each of the past eight years across Holland, Italy and Spain. The defense is suspect though and that is the reason I believe they will not go far in this tournament with the quarters being the farthest they can go.
Key player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Breakout star: Rasmus Elm.
When the country's hopes are centered on the abilities of its coach, Oleg Blokhin (he starred for the Soviet Union in the 70's and 80's), that's a bad sign. More bad news - Andriy Shevchenko is still in the squad. Enough said. This squad will play like the Austrian squad at the last Euros. Ukraine will generate some noise and a lot of effort, but few points. They will not progress from the group stage.
Key player: Anatoliy Tymoshchuk.
Breakout star: Andriy Yarmolenko.
Group Prediction : This one was the toughest choice to make but it is going to be France and England. I am trusting Roy Hodgson, and believe that Ibrahimovic and Elmander will not be able to make up for the ageing Swedish defense.
The knockout rounds
F 1: Russia vs Netherlands (Netherlands to advance)
F 2: Germany vs Poland (Germany to advance)
F 3: Spain vs England (Spain to advance)
F 4: France vs Ireland (France to advance)
Yes, all top four seeds to go through. Pretty predictable - which means upsets are sure to come.
Spain beats Netherlands in SF1, and Germany beats France in SF2 with Germany beating Spain in the finals.
The current odds have Spain and Germany more or less even at around 3/1, with the Netherlands around 6/1, France at 10/1 and England and Italy at about 15/1. The dark horse in this tournament is the Netherlands (if you can call them a dark horse as the third best team), while my upset pick is Portugal (which at 20/1 is "well worth a flutter" as the Brits put it). The Player of Euro 2012 will be Mesut Ozil.